Lemon Grove history at the Parsonage Museum.

One of the most fascinating museums in San Diego County is located in the city of Lemon Grove.

The Parsonage Museum, operated by the Lemon Grove Historical Society, occupies a beautifully restored Victorian building at Treganza Heritage Park. The building began as Lemon Grove’s first church, the 1897 Atherton Chapel.

The old church was eventually moved from its original location, served as a community meeting hall, then became a private residence. Today it houses a museum whose exhibits recall a time when Lemon Grove was a small agricultural town with citrus orchards and packing houses, a general store, and a boast of the Best Climate on Earth!

I walked about Treganza Heritage Park and visited the Parsonage Museum last weekend. I also took a quick look at the 1928 H. Lee House, a Tudor Revival structure that stands nearby in the park and serves as a cultural center.

I urge anyone interested in the history of San Diego and Lemon Grove to head to the Parsonage Museum on a day when they are open. See their website for more information here!

To get an idea of what you’ll discover, please read my photo captions!

Treganza Heritage Park in Lemon Grove was first called Civic Center Park. It’s name was changed in 2020. The Treganza family was an influential pioneer family in Lemon Grove.
A view of the H. Lee House. It was moved to this location to make way for the extension of State Route 125.
The H. Lee House was built in 1928. It was designed by British architect Frederick C. Clemesha. Today it serves as a cultural center, where events such as History Alive lectures can be enjoyed.
One more photo of the handsome H. Lee House.
Lemon trees stand in a plaza between the H. Lee House and the Parsonage Museum.
The small plaza welcomes visitors to Treganza Heritage Park.
A 2002 dedication plaque from back when it was called Civic Center Park.
Now turning to look at the Parsonage Museum. The restored Folk Victorian building, the 1897 Atherton Chapel, served as the only Lemon Grove church until 1912.
Recovered grave marker of Anton Sonka just outside the museum entrance.

Anton Sonka was the patriarch of the Sonka family that led the growth of Lemon Grove between 1908 and the 1950s. His headstone, along with many others, was removed from Calvary Cemetery in 1970 by the City of San Diego and dumped at Mt. Hope Cemetery for mass burial. In 1985 Lemon Grove Historical Society members rescued and stored the headstone. It was brought to The Parsonage Museum in 2000 and unveiled on this permanent site in 2004.

(If you’d like to learn more about this callous dumping of gravestones, which were discovered in a gully at Mt. Hope Cemetery, I posted a blog concerning it here.)

When I visited in November 2021, the Parsonage Museum was featuring several historical exhibits concerning Lemon Grove.
The museum building was “Built in 1897 as First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove.”
Stepping into the museum, greeted by a lemony, welcoming doormat!
Look at what’s in the museum! A recreation of the Sonka Brothers General Store.
Items on display recall Lemon Grove’s rural history, which includes general stores where the community would gather.

The Sonka Brothers General Store stood near the center of town for decades. You can see photos of the Lemon Grove History Mural that’s painted on the south side of the historic Sonka Brothers General Store building here!

Photo from October 3, 1957 of The Big Lemon during a flag-raising. Civic leader Tony Sonka stands at the center.

If you like to see The Big Lemon today, which still stands on Broadway, check out these photos!

Old drum from the Lemon Grove Junior High School band.
1891 photograph of the first general store in Lemon Grove, built by A. E. Christianson at Main and Pacific Streets.
The many displays at the Parsonage Museum include these Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association packing crates.
Lemon sizers, circa 1930’s. Packers would separate lemons by size.
Woman holding lemon sizer, with stacked ready-to-assemble crates nearby.
A room on the ground floor of the Parsonage Museum recreates the Parson’s Study. Reverend Isaac Atherton established the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove in 1894. The building was constructed in 1897.
Several rooms can be viewed on the second floor of the Parsonage Museum, including this Parents’ Room, or bedroom.
The Sewing Room.
The Children’s Room.
Back on the museum’s ground floor, in a corner gallery, the current exhibit is titled Miller Dairy Remembered. This local dairy sold its first milk in 1926. Houses were finally built on the ranch site in the 1980’s. An important chapter of Lemon Grove’s agrarian past is recalled.
Lemon Grove’s old Miller Dairy and their 300 freely roaming Holstein cows are fondly remembered at the Parsonage Museum.
Historical photos show the Miller Dairy in Lemon Grove, from 1940-1980.
One last look at the lemon yellow Parsonage Museum!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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